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Organic Matter in the Universe [Hardcover]

Sun Kwok
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 30, 2011 3527409866 978-3527409860 1
Authored by an experienced writer and a well-known researcher of stellar evolution, interstellar matter and spectroscopy, this unique treatise on the formation and observation of organic compounds in space includes a spectroscopy refresher, as well as links to geological findings and finishes with the outlook for future astronomical facilities and solar system exploration missions. A whole section on laboratory simulations includes the Miller-Urey experiment and the ultraviolet photolysis of ices.

Editorial Reviews


“An excellent monograph by a well-qualified authority.  Summing Up: Highly recommended.  Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers/faculty.”  (Choice, 1 July 2012)

From the Back Cover

The discovery of the wide presence of organic matter in the Universe came as a surprise to the scientific community. Over the past 30 years, many extraterrestrial organic molecules and solids have been identified by spectroscopic or laboratory means. This book summarizes the observational evidence for organic matter in the Solar System, stars and interstellar space, and distant galaxies. Our current understanding of the origin and distribution of organic matter is also discussed. Special emphasis is put on the commonality and links between organics observed in stars and meteorites, asteroids, comets, and interplanetary dust particles. The possibility that the Earth inherited complex organic compounds produced by stars has raised new questions about how life originated on our planet.

This book is a useful introduction for students and scientists in astronomy, chemistry, biology, geology, physics and space science who wish to gain an overview of this fascinating subject. The inclusion of many up-to-date references provides a solid platform for researchers to enter this field.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 277 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-VCH; 1 edition (November 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3527409866
  • ISBN-13: 978-3527409860
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,028,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sun Kwok is leading world authority on the subject of astrochemistry and stellar evolution. He is best known for his theory on the origin of planetary nebulae and the death of Sun-like stars. His recent research has been on the topic of the synthesis of complex organic compounds in the late stages of stellar evolution. He is the author of many books, including The Origin and Evolution of Planetary Nebulae (2000), Cosmic Butterflies (2001), Physics and Chemistry of the Interstellar Medium (2007), and Organic Matter in the Universe (2012). He has been a guest observer on many space missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Infrared Space Observatory. He currently serves as the President of Commission 34 interstellar Matter of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), as well as Vice President of IAU Commission 51 Bioastronomy. He served as the chairman of IAU Planetary Nebulae Working Group between 1994 and 2001, and as organizing committee member of IAU Astrochemistry Working Group.

In addition to professional writings, he has also written many articles in popular astronomy magazines. After the very successful book Cosmic Butterflies (2001), he recently published another popular science book Stardust: the Cosmic Seeds of Life (2013).

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A major contribution to cosmic organic chemistry October 3, 2012
"Organic Matter in the Universe" is a major gift to the literature in the field of cosmic organic chemistry. It is a comprehensive, tour-de-force. Over the past 50 years, our 'knowledge' of chemistry in space has expanded from an exotic subject, with maybe a handful of diatomic and triatomic molecules known sprinkled across the Milky Way, to one that incorporates a chemically-rich Universe that has known molecular complexity for most of its existence. The field has grown and expanded so much that new researchers have a major, constantly growing challenge to find clear, comprehensive, accessible doorway literature. This book provides such an entry. The span and reach of this book from basic principles of organic chemistry all the way through the spectacular astronomical story puts it truly in a class by itself.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Astrochemistry! January 22, 2012
[this is a very partial review]

A very interesting first page! Dr. Kwok immediately dispenses with the prescientific notion of vitalism [inherent to so many alternative medicines which falsely label such "science"!]:

"[once] it was believed that living things possess a 'vital force' which was absent in nonliving things [...] scientists thought organic matter could not be synthesized from inorganic matter because it lacked the 'vital force' [...] in 1823 [...] Wohler [...showed] it was possible to convert on inorganic molecule into an organic one by artificial means, without the magic of 'vitalism'. This was the beginning of the disappearance of the concept of 'vital force' from the scientific arena [p.001]."

It is fascinating just how many organic compounds are being found out there in the cosmos arising without 'life' as an immediate / essential source.

This emphasizes to me how much looking 'up there' [e.g. astronomy] QUITE changes our understanding of 'down here' [e.g. human biology].

I notice, though, a simple error in spelling on that first page. For example, instead of the word "possess" we have the plural of the word "posse", "posses". My hope is that this isn't an indication of the orthographical quality of the text.

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